This has got to be one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to electric shavers.
And it makes perfect sense—after all, most men that went for an electric razor did so just to get rid of the discomfort caused by shaving with a blade.
Regardless if you’re coming directly from traditional wet shaving or you just want an upgrade for your current electric razor, you’ll most likely want two things: a close shave and a comfortable, pain free experience.
Finding the best electric shaver for sensitive skin is not as straight forward as some might think. And that’s because there isn’t such a thing as the best shaver, but one that is right for you.
Prep work is equally important.
There are a few, but very important aspects to keep in mind that can make a big difference between a poor and great shaving experience. I wrote two detailed articles with tips on both dry and wet electric shaving and I recommend reading those as well.
Rotary vs foil for sensitive skin.
Recommending one type of shaver vs another based on anecdotal evidence will always be a a personal and subjective thing.
And the topic of this post is no exception. I personally prefer foil shavers as I’ve always found them to be more comfortable and easier to use. I feel more confident and in control with a foil shaver compared to using a rotary razor.
Moreover, some rotary razors, especially the ones in the lower end segment, have a tendency to pull and yank on the hairs.
Most men that have used both types seem to be on the same page when it comes to rotary vs foil shavers for sensitive skin.
Of course, your mileage may vary as in the end it all comes down to personal preference.
What are the qualities of a shaver suitable for sensitive skin?
Even though lots of the electric shavers out there will work fine for most men, there are some aspects to keep in mind if your skin is prone to irritation.
As someone that had to deal with it for years, I tried many shavers in order to find one that won’t leave my face looking like a total mess and feeling like it was on fire.
In my experience, these are the most important hallmarks of a shaver suitable for sensitive skin:
1. Sharp blades.
A blade that quickly becomes dull will cause pulling, tugging and won’t shave as close as it normally would.
This will eventually lead to more pressure being applied and will make you use an excessive number of strokes, causing razor burn and irritation.
A great example of quality blades are Panasonic’s 30 degrees nano blades that are sharpen at an aggressive 30 degrees angle as the name implies. This allows the blade to cut the hairs clean and without any pulling.
Also, you always have to consider the replacement parts when looking for a new electric shaver; they must be readily available and ideally not too expensive.
2. Fast motor.
A razor fitted with a powerful motor shaves faster, smoother and with less passes required, needs little to no pressure applied and contributes to a very comfortable shave.
3. A shaving head that doesn’t get hot during operation.
You should also regularly lubricate your razor to reduce the heat during use and also to minimize the wear of the blades.
There are shavers that remain perfectly cool during use even in the case of an extended shaving session as we’ll see next.
4. It must be good at dealing with longer hairs that grow in different directions.
As someone with sensitive skin, you have to sometimes wait a couple of days or more between shaving sessions. Your skin needs some time to recover before subjecting it again to a potentially irritating factor, like a piece of metal that rubs against it.
Therefore, the shaver must cope well with longer hairs. Also, lots of shavers have some trouble when shaving hairs that grow in different directions, especially on the neck, requiring multiple passes and thus increasing the risk of irritation.
5. Wet & dry operation.
Like I said in a previous article, wet shaving can be extremely beneficial for men with sensitive skin.
Even though it takes longer and requires more prep work, it can make a big difference for some men. You should definitely give it a try if your razor is suitable for wet/dry operation.
What are some of the best electric shavers for sensitive skin?
Now that we’ve covered the boring part, it’s time to check out some actual shavers in order to narrow down your options.
Considering the points presented above, there a few shavers that will be very suitable for the job. Here are my recommendations:
1. Braun Series 9 9290cc
The Series 9 is the latest and greatest from the popular German manufacturer and represents an evolution of the iconic Series 7.
Building upon an already great foundation, the Series 9 is a more powerful and more advanced electric shaver that takes comfort one notch higher.
Shaving with the Series 9 is a real treat; the foils remain cool during use and shaving is supremely comfortable, with no pulling or tugging even when shaving a three days beard.
The addition of the forth cutting element, called the Direct & Cut trimmer makes the Series 9 very efficient at cutting longer hairs that grow in different directions, requiring less passes compared to most other foil shavers.
The Series 9 is really impressive at how it manages to provide close shaves while being very gentle to the skin. It feels effortless and will have no trouble shaving even very coarse stubble.
For these reasons, the Series 9 is probably the best choice for men with sensitive skin, provided that the budget is not really a constraint.
There are several variations of the Series 9, all of them offering the same performance. You can opt for a dry only model, like the first generation 9090cc, or for a wet & dry variation, like the 9290cc.
The cc models include an automatic cleaning station, while the s models do not.
The 9290cc that I reviewed in great detail here seems to be the best option as it generally costs less than all Series 9 cc models and is suitable for wet and dry use.
For more details, you can read a comprehensive comparison between all the different Series 9 variations here.
I recommend going for a Series 9 that also includes an automatic cleaning station. It works great and makes cleaning a non issue.
With that said, the Series 9 is a bit pricey and for most men other less expensive options will also work just fine.
2. Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc4
This is a shaver that ticks pretty much all the boxes: it has a powerful 14 000 CPM (cycles per minute) linear motor, a 4 blade cutting system (equipped with Panasonic’s excellent nano blades), together providing a very close and comfortable shave.
The reasonable price and a host of high-end features make the ES-LA63-S one of the best options out there. You get a lot of shaver for that price as you usually have to pay a lot more for a shaver of the same quality.
For wet shaving, I actually think Panasonic razors work better than the ones from Braun, significantly improving the comfort of the shave. And the ES-LA63-S is no exception.
They’re also much easier to clean manually as the shaving head can be taken apart and rinsed under tap water.
You can also buy the Arc 4 with a cleaning and charging station in the form of Panasonic ES-LA93-K. Other than that and a different color scheme it’s identical to the ES-LA63-S. For a complete overview of Panasonic’s excellent Arc 4 family of shavers you can check out this article.
3. Braun 7 Series 790CC
The Series 7 is also a shaver that needs no introduction, being one of the most acclaimed shavers out there for its performance and supremely comfortable shaves.
Also, due to the micro-pulsations and specially designed middle trimmer, it impresses at how effective it shaves coarse, long or short hairs that grow in different directions.
It has a powerful motor, a 3 blade cutting system and a micro-foil that was designed to be sensitive skin friendly.
The Series 7 790cc is more expensive than the Panasonic ES-LA63-S, but it does come with an excellent cleaning and charging station. You can check out our in depth review of the Braun Series 7 790cc here.
The only potential downside of the 790CC has to be its dry only operation. Luckily, Braun has addressed this with several wet/dry variations like the Series 7 799CC, an identical shaver that can also be used with a shaving cream.
If you’re willing to give wet shaving a try — and I highly recommend doing so — then the Series 7 799CC is a very solid option.
As I said in the direct comparison between the Series 7 and Series 9, for most men the Series 7 will work perfectly fine and only a few will see a significant difference when using the Series 9.
For more details on all the Series 7 models you can read our in-depth comparison and pick the right one for you.
4. Braun Series 5 5090cc
The Series 5 from Braun is basically a Series 7 that costs less and doesn’t include some of its premium features, like the personalization modes and the micro-pulsation technology.
However, in real life, these features don’t make such a big difference and the Series 5 represents a great, more affordable alternative to the Series 7.
The Series 5 is available in several variations, suitable for wet/dry or dry only use. You can buy it with or without the cleaning station.
Regardless of your choice, they all provide the same shaving experience, being extremely comfortable during use, which makes the Series 5 a solid option for men with sensitive skin. You can read our detailed review of the Braun Series 5 5090cc here.
A budget friendly shaver suitable for sensitive skin
These shavers are definitely some of the best, but they may not fit within a tight budget. Sharp blades, fast motors and an overall quality shaving system usually come with a higher price tag.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good product that’s also easy on the wallet. Of course it won’t match the performance of the top ones, but it can get pretty close, especially if you shave more often.
5. Braun Series 3 3040s
With that said, a great inexpensive option is another razor from Braun, the Series 3 3040s ProSkin that we reviewed in detail here.
It is a surprisingly good shaver for sensitive skin, providing very comfortable shaves. You won’t get the same closeness as in the case of the Series 7 or 9, but then again it is significantly cheaper and it will be good enough for many men.
You probably noticed that I didn’t recommend any rotary shavers; like I said in the beginning, I find foil razors more suitable for skin that is prone to irritation or razor burn. This was just my personal experience after using both types.
To wrap it up, a shaver suitable for sensitive skin is not a whole different breed of machine that does some kind of magic.
Getting a pain free shave is a matter of doing the prep work right, taking your time, using the right technique and, of course, a suitable shaver. And always follow-up your shave with a soothing, hydrating balm.